The following is a release from the Rocket City Trash Pandas:
MADISON, Alabama – In conjunction with the Los Angeles Angels, the Rocket City Trash Pandas are proud to announce the first roster in club history ahead of Opening Day against the Chattanooga Lookouts on Tuesday, May 4.
At the helm for the Trash Pandas will be Manager Jay Bell, a World Series Champion and Gold Glove Award Winner with over 2,000 games of Major League experience. Joining him on the coaching staff will be Pitching Coach Michael Wuertz, Hitting Coach Kenny Hook, Defensive Coach Derek Florko, Strength and Conditioning Coach Andrew Chappell, and Athletic Trainer Yusuke Takahashi.
Bell’s 28-man squad features five of the Angels’ Top 30 prospects (according to MLB.com): left-handed pitcher Reid Detmers (Angels’ No. 2, No. 65 in all of baseball), right-handed pitcher Oliver Ortega (No. 15), outfielder Orlando Martinez (No. 17), left-handed pitcher Packy Naughton (No. 22), and right-handed pitcher Denny Brady (No. 28).
Detmers, the Angels’ top pitching prospect, will be making his professional debut for Rocket City. Drafted in the first round (10th overall) of the 2020 Draft out of the University of Louisville, Detmers spent last season at the Angels Alternate Training Site in Long Beach.
A strong Trash Pandas’ pitching staff includes Packy Naughton, a left-hander entering his first full season in the Angels organization. In 2019, he was named the Cincinnati Reds’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year after a strong season between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga.
Set to make their Double-A debuts on the mound for the Trash Pandas will be Denny Brady, Cooper Criswell, Detmers, Jhonathan Diaz, Travis Herrin, Connor Higgins, Jake Lee, Hansel Rodriguez, Keith Rogalla, and Kyle Tyler.
Adrian Almeida, Nathan Bates, Oliver Ortega, have previously pitched for the Mobile BayBears while Kieran Lovegrove has appeared at the Double-A level for parts of two seasons in the Cleveland Indians and San Francisco Giants organizations.
In the lineup, the Trash Pandas will have a diverse group of young talent mixed with minor league veterans. Infielders David MacKinnon and Michael Stefanic will be playing at the Double-A level for the first time. Ray-Patrick Didder, Jake Gatewood, Ibandel Isabel, and Mitch Nay have all been All-Stars at the minor league level in previous seasons. Isabel also set a Florida State League record with 35 home runs in 2018.
The outfield is the youngest group on the team with all four outfielders aged 25 or younger. Torii Hunter Jr., 25, is the oldest of the group. The son of Minnesota Twins and Angels legend Torii Hunter Sr., Hunter Jr. was named a California League All-Star in 2019. Spencer Griffin, Orlando Martinez, and Izzy Wilson join Hunter Jr. in making their Double-A debuts for Rocket City.
Handling the pitching staff will be the catching trio of Michael Cruz, Matt Jones, and Anthony Mulrine. Cruz and Mulrine will be making their Double-A debuts, while Jones was a member of the 2018 Jackson Generals team that won the Southern League Championship.
Rocket City Trash Pandas Opening Day Roster (As of May 2, 2021):
Right-Handed Pitchers (10): Nathan Bates, Denny Brady, Cooper Criswell, Travis Herrin, Jake Lee, Kieran Lovegrove, Oliver Ortega, Hansel Rodriguez, Keith Rogalla, Kyle Tyler
Left-Handed Pitchers (5): Adrian Almeida, Reid Detmers, Jhonathan Diaz, Connor Higgins, Packy Naughton
Catchers (3): Michael Cruz, Matt Jones, Anthony Mulrine
Infielders (6): Ray-Patrick Didder, Jake Gatewood, Ibandel Isabel, David MacKinnon, Mitch Nay, Michael Stefanic
Outfielders (4): Spencer Griffin, Torii Hunter Jr., Orlando Martinez, Izzy Wilson
The Trash Pandas open the 2021 season on the road against the Chattanooga Lookouts on Tuesday, May 4 at 6:15 p.m. Josh Caray will be on the call for 103.9 FM The UMP and 730 AM SportsRadio.